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Monday Scramble: Close encounters

By Mercer BaggsMay 28, 2018, 1:30 pm

Justin Rose takes down another classic venue. Rory McIlroy blows another chance to win. And we've got a monster week ahead in the golf world. All that and more in this week's edition of Monday Scramble.

Justin Rose is a big game hunter. Take a look at some of courses he's bagged as part of his nine PGA Tour victories: Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion, Congressional and now Colonial. He's also won an additional seven events on the European Tour (on courses including Valderrama and Royal Aberdeen) and a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games.

So, is that a Hall of Fame resume? Well, golf writers no longer have an official say. That will ultimately be up to a 16-member selection committee. Said committee is going to have to make some tough decisions down the line. Just taking into consider what they've done to this point in their careers, there are some legitimate borderline contenders. Among the more established one-major winners: Rose, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk and Adam Scott. Among the multiple major champs: Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and Zach Johnson.

Speaking specifically of Rose, you have to take into strong consideration the caliber of venues at which he's won. And while the field in Rio a few years ago wasn't major-caliber, winning gold may prove to be the defining moment of his career.

Hall of Fame? We'll see how high the committee's standards are.

1. Over the last decade at Colonial Country Club, everything from 9 under par to 21 under par has proved victorious. This year it was closer, much closer, to the latter. Rose made 25 birdies and five bogeys for a 20-under total. Had he not bogeyed the 72nd hole, he would have tied the tournament scoring record. Five of the last six events, including the Zurich team competition, have been won at 17 under or lower. For those of you who prefer higher scores, fear not. The U.S. Open is in a few weeks and the average winning score of its predecessor, the FedEx St. Jude Classic, over the eight years is 11 under. Only one player in the last decade has shot lower than 16 under at the Memorial Tournament (this week's event). That, however, would be Rose (18 under, 2010). 

2. Second sucks. Brooks Koepka concurs with Tiger Woods. Koepka earned his sixth runner-up finish since May 2016, finishing three shots behind Rose in Fort Worth. Koepka wasn't quite as abrasive as Woods was in the late-90s, just referring to the close calls as "annoying." He does, however, have a U.S. Open victory - and a win in the Dunlop Phoenix - during that stretch. Given his good form, he could become the first player since Curtis Strange, in 1989, to defend his national championship title.

3. Kevin Na opened in 62 and closed in 61, and finished six shots back of Rose. Middle rounds of 73-70 at par-70 Colonial cost him any chance of a second PGA Tour title. That's now one career victory in 367 Tour starts. At least he has nearly $26 million in earnings to comfort him.

4. Before we leave Colonial, let's remember ... we don't have to. Thanks to Charles Schwab and Co., stepping in as sponsor, beginning next year, this event - and this venue - will remain on the Tour schedule for the foreseeable future.



5. And, before we get dive into what McIlroy didn't do at the BMW PGA Championship, let's pay off the man who got the job done. Francesco Molinari earned the biggest victory of his career by beating McIlroy head-to-head on Sunday at Wentworth Club. The two began the final round tied for the lead. Molinari closed in 68, McIlroy in 70. The 35-year-old Italian played his final 44 holes bogey-free and only made two all week to capture the European Tour's version of The Players. It's Molinari's fifth career European Tour win.

6. McIlroy could have five wins this season. Alas, he has but one (Arnold Palmer Invitational). McIlroy was once again in prime position to add to his trophy case. He played so well through two rounds that defending champion and playing competitor Alex Noren joked about quitting the game. But Saturday was erratic and Sunday was unproductive, and, in the end, he was left with a solo second-place finish. "I should have closed it out," he said. Just as he should have done at the Masters, and in Dubai, and in Abu Dhabi.

7. European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn began last week by naming Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell as his assistants. But he had to be even happier with the way the week ended. Rose won on the PGA Tour. Molinari emerged on the European Tour. And McIlroy is thisclose to being dominant Rory again. Molinari was on the victorious 2010 and 2012 European teams. His half-point against Tiger Woods in singles in '12 helped the away team complete the Miracle at Medinah.



8. Did someone say Tiger Woods? He's in action this week at the Memorial Tournament. Given his history at this event (five wins) and his impressive weekend showing in his most recent start (The Players), the expectations will be high at Muirfield Village. But when aren't they? Tiger will get the lion's share of attention, but the field also includes McIlroy, Rose, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler. And, of course, host Jack Nicklaus will hold court in the media center. Expect lots of good headlines.

9. The women, meanwhile, will be competing in the U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek ... weather permitting. Mother Nature has not been kind to the LPGA this year and with Subtropical Storm Alberto moving through the Gulf of Mexico and into Alabama, it's going to be another rainy occasion.

This section is usually reserved for something wacky that happened in the past seven days. But this week we spotlight the heroics of Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana. Seaman took three bullets in helping stop a school shooting. Seaman survived.

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reported that Seaman's aunt, Tracy Hubly, was serving as caddie for her husband, Chris Starkjohann, at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. Said Hubly, "You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school. It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

Another school shooting. What the hell?

This week's award winners ...



Dude is major: Paul Broadhurst won the Senior PGA Championship, defeating Tim Petrovic by four shots at Harbor Shores. The 52-year-old Englishman closed in 63 to earn his fourth career PGA Tour Champions title and his second senior major (2016 Senior Open Championship).



Happy birthday to Minjee: Minjee Lee birdied the final hole for a one-stroke win at the LPGA Volvik Championship. She turned 22 on Sunday and collected her fourth career tour victory, at an event in which she finished runner-up a year ago.



Hale(y) to the victors!: The University of Arizona won the NCAA Women's DI Championship when Haley Moore made birdie in a sudden-death playoff to give the Wildcats a 3-2 victory over Alabama in the finals. Arizona needed an eagle by Bianca Pagdanganan and then a playoff win over Baylor just to make the match-play field. Now, they are a three-time national champion.

Live up to that, fellas: The man now take the stage at Karsten Creek. You can watch the action live on Golf Channel:

  • Monday: Final day of stroke play to determine individual champion and match-play field
  • Tuesday: Quarterfinals (11AM ET) and Semifinals (4PM)
  • Wednesday: Finals (4PM)
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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for The Northern Trust

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 21, 2018, 10:20 pm

It's the first tournament of the FedExCup Playoffs and the top 125 on the season-long points list are battling it out to see who will move on to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for The Northern Trust. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; Click here for live stream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, Noon-1:45PM ET; Click here for live stream; CBS, 2-6 p.m.


Purse: $9 million ($1.62 million to winner)

Course: Course: Ridgewood Country Club (par 71, 7,319 yards)

Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (Defeated Jordan Spieth with a birdie on the first playoff hole at Glen Oaks Club)

Notable tee times (all times ET)

• 7:54 a.m. Thursday, 12:55 p.m. Friday: Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman, Tommy Fleetwood

• 8:05 a.m. Thursday, 1:06 p.m. Friday: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka

• 8:16 a.m. Thursday, 1:17 p.m. Friday: Webb Simpson, Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau

• 12:44 p.m. Thursday, 7:43 a.m. Friday: Jordan Spieth, Beau Hossler, Byeong-Hun An

• 12:55 p.m. Thursday, 7:54 a.m. Friday: Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau

Key stats:

The top 100 players in FedExCup points after The Northern Trust advance to the Dell Technologies Championship.

• The field includes 120 of the top 125 in this season’s FedExCup – all except No. 17 Rickie Fowler, No. 21 Rory McIlroy, No. 50 Henrik Stenson, No. 93 Patrick Rodgers and No. 122 Bud Cauley.

• 2007 and 2009 FedExCup champion Tiger Woods is making his first appearance in the FedExCup Playoffs since 2013. Although he has won each of the other three playoff events, he has never won The Northern Trust.

• In the 11 years that this event has been part of the FedExCup Playoffs, the winner has gone on to capture the FedExCup just once - Vijay Singh in 2008.

• The defending champion is Dustin Johnson. Ernie Els (1996-1997) is the only player to successfully defend his title.

• Jordan Spieth finished runner-up last year. Three runners-up have gone on to win the next year - Seve Ballesteros (1987-1988), Dennis Paulson (1999-2000), and Padraig Harrington

(2004-2005).

• The course record in this event at Ridgewood Country Club is 62 by Hunter Mahan in the first round in 2008. The tournament record for 18 holes is 61 by Brandt Snedeker in the final round in 2011 at Plainfield Country Club.

(Stats and information provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit)

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Na holding out hope for Ryder Cup captain's pick

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:22 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – There are no shortage of goals for players as the PGA Tour reaches the final month of the season, and how players prioritize those accomplishments depends on individual motivations.

For example, coming into the season Kevin Na’s primary goal was to win a Tour event, which he accomplished last month at the Greenbrier. After that, things get interesting.

“I think win, No. 1. Ryder Cup, No. 2. Tour Championship, No. 3,” he said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust.

Na is currently 19th on the FedExCup point list, which gives him a good chance to qualify for the season finale, which comes with an invitation to three of next year’s four majors. The more pressing concern would be this year’s Ryder Cup.


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Na finish 18th on the U.S. Ryder Cup point list and he would likely need to do something extraordinary the next two weeks for captain Jim Furyk to make him one of his picks. Still, making the team that will travel to Paris next month is always on his short list.

“If I can somehow get my name on one of those lists of players that play the Ryder Cup; maybe at the end of my career, instead of saying, you know, you probably say, I had X amount of wins; and I played X amount of Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, I think is pretty cool,” said Na, who has never played on a Ryder or Presidents Cup team.

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Woods tinkering with driver shaft, loft at The Northern Trust

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:11 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Tiger Woods said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust that he spent last week attending his children’s soccer games and tinkering with his driver.

Although he finished runner-up at the PGA Championship, Woods hit just 5 of 14 fairways on Sunday at Bellerive and ranked 74th for the week in fairways hit. It was no surprise that his focus heading into the FedExCup Playoffs was finding more fairways.

“We've been working on it, experimenting with different shafts and different lofts on my driver and 3-wood, as well,” Woods said. “Just trying different things. I've still got two more days and I'll still be monkeying around with a couple things and come game time we'll see what I go with.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Woods played an abbreviated practice round on Tuesday at Ridgewood Country Club, which included Nos. 1-8 and Nos. 15-18, with a new driver that features a different shaft from the one he used at the PGA Championship and more loft (9.5 degrees).

He also had a TaylorMade equipment representative walking with him on Tuesday and went to the practice range after his round for more work.

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English confident in playoff run after just sneaking in

By Rex HoggardAugust 21, 2018, 9:07 pm

PARAMUS, N.J. – Harris English didn’t know the exact math, only that he needed to play his best final round of the season last week at the Wyndham Championship.

Although it wasn’t perfect, English’s closing 68 was good enough to tie for 11th place and vault him from 132nd on the season-long point race to 124th and into the playoffs.

“It was definitely a bit of a pressure-packed situation coming down the stretch. Different than, really, winning a golf tournament,” English said on Tuesday at The Northern Trust, the postseason lid-lifter. “It felt like Q-School again back in 2011 where you're in the sixth round and trying to get it done.”


The Northern Trust: Articles, photos and videos


Despite three-putts on three of his final nine holes, English earned his seventh consecutive trip to the postseason and some much needed confidence after a tough year.

English had just two top-10 finishes this season and spent the majority of the summer mired around the playoff bubble (No. 125).

“Being 124 right now, I need another really good week this week to make it to Boston [the second playoff stop],” he said. “I like where I am. I have a lot of confidence from last week. Struck the ball well and kind of did everything to put the ball in great position. If I can do that again this week, that would be a heck of a week.”

Nick Taylor also played his way into the top 125 last week, finishing tied for eighth place at Sedgefield Country Club to move from No. 129 to No. 119.